Forced to Care: Coercion and Caregiving in America

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Overview

The United States faces a growing crisis in care. The number of people needing care is growing while the ranks of traditional caregivers have shrunk. The status of care workers is a critical concern.

Evelyn Nakano Glenn offers an innovative interpretation of care labor in the United States by tracing the roots of inequity along two interconnected strands: unpaid caring within the family; and slavery, indenture, and other forms of coerced labor. By bringing both into the same analytic framework, she provides a convincing explanation of the devaluation of care work and the exclusion of both unpaid and paid care workers from critical rights such as minimum wage, retirement benefits, and workers' compensation. Glenn reveals how assumptions about gender, family, home, civilization, and citizenship have shaped the development of care labor and been incorporated into law and social policies. She exposes the underlying systems of control that have resulted in women—especially immigrants and women of color—performing a disproportionate share of caring labor. Finally, she examines strategies for improving the situation of unpaid family caregivers and paid home healthcare workers.

This important and timely book illuminates the source of contradictions between American beliefs about the value and importance of caring in a good society and the exploitation and devalued status of those who actually do the caring.

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Editorial Reviews

Feminist Review

Glenn advocates for both care providers and those receiving care and uses her vast knowledge of the history and foundation of the problems to offer concrete solutions to the difficulties both face as our aging society pushes us closer to a crisis in the fastest growing segment of healthcare in America
— Kari O'Driscoll

Metapsychology

[Glenn's] evidence is compelling and deals with a wide variety of examples that proves how coercion and caregiving have gone hand in hand. She uses evidence from the coercion of African-American women in general, slavery, Native-American women, as well as White women. She provides the reader with information on how class, race, and gender have formed the caregiving policies of twenty-first century America and how policies and laws have favored women as carers.
— Elin Weiss

Karen Brodkin
A powerful and persuasive critique, Forced to Care weaves together an insightful historical narrative about caregiving. Why is care of the ill and infirm a private, family responsibility and not a public entitlement? This important and timely book should be part of the national discussion about America's health care system.
Marjorie Devault
In a strikingly original book, Glenn provides the kind of full view that will be foundational to a major advance in our thinking about caring labor. She offers an impressive account of how gender and race have intertwined in caring labor and how coercion in care work has endured despite considerable change over time. Creative, astute, and compelling, this book will appeal to a wide range of readers in health care, labor relations, and law and social welfare policy.
Mimi Abramovitz
A tour de force! Glenn presents a powerful interpretation of the social construction of care work, moving beyond the standard focus on individuals to pinpoint the ideological and material underpinnings of the care system. She reveals an evolving system that remains rooted in the coercion of women, especially immigrant women and women of color, and she offers thoughtful recommendations for a profound reorganization of care work that truly meets the needs of both those who give and those who receive care.
Myra Marx Ferree
In this incisive analysis, Glenn turns a brilliantly critical eye on the institutions that pit money against love. Taking the long historical view on the relationship between freedom and labor that made her prize-winning book Unequal Freedom so eye-opening, she reveals how the supposedly 'free' market still rests on a basis of coercive social demand rather than choice.
Arlie Hochschild
Scouring the history of Native American boarding schools, nineteenth-century reformatories, and programs to Americanize immigrants, Glenn brilliantly reveals the role of coercion in caregiving. An important read for us all.
Feminist Review - Kari O'Driscoll
Glenn advocates for both care providers and those receiving care and uses her vast knowledge of the history and foundation of the problems to offer concrete solutions to the difficulties both face as our aging society pushes us closer to a crisis in the fastest growing segment of healthcare in America
Metapsychology - Elin Weiss
[Glenn's] evidence is compelling and deals with a wide variety of examples that proves how coercion and caregiving have gone hand in hand. She uses evidence from the coercion of African-American women in general, slavery, Native-American women, as well as White women. She provides the reader with information on how class, race, and gender have formed the caregiving policies of twenty-first century America and how policies and laws have favored women as carers.
Marjorie DeVault
In a strikingly original book, Glenn provides the kind of full view that will be foundational to a major advance in our thinking about caring labor. She offers an impressive account of how gender and race have intertwined in caring labor and how coercion in care work has endured despite considerable change over time. Creative, astute, and compelling, this book will appeal to a wide range of readers in health care, labor relations, and law and social welfare policy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674048799
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Evelyn Nakano Glenn is Professor of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
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